By Jason Hall
Consistent love for each other and a focus on Christ are among the marks of a health community of faith.
Southeastern President Daniel Akin presented those marks, along with others found in Hebrews 13, on June 6 to the audience at Advance ’09, a conference held in Durham, N.C., on the importance of the local church.
Akin said that the first mark seen in Hebrews 13 about what marks a genuine community of faith is also one of the most enduring, that of love for each other. This love serves both a discipleship and evangelistic function within the community.
“Christians loving Christians demonstrates to the world that Jesus Christ does make a difference,” Akin said.
Healthy churches also display care for those in need, marked especially by a spirit of hospitality and openness that extends to people of all walks of life, including all ethnicities, social classes, and languages. Akin said the blight of racism still rests on many congregations.
“God will not visit us with a great moving of his spirit unless we get our hearts right in this particular area,” he said
Akin called for healthy churches to honor marriage and family as defined by Scripture, to display an unshakable faith in the providence of God, and to be submissive to godly leadership of pastors and elders in the church.
Akin also said that perhaps the most foundational mark of a healthy community of faith is a focus on Christ and Christ-centered doctrine. Those churches that do not focus on Christ tend to get off track, he said, because unless the foundation is Christ, “to do anything else is mere vanity.”
Following that foundation, health communities praise their Lord with worship and good works of service. These are done not to earn the favor of the Lord, but in thanksgiving for the work he has already done on their behalf.
“In response to his sacrifice, we make the sacrifice of praise,” Akin said. “We go about doing good in response to his grace.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.